With all the hype surrounding Bryce Harper, you'd think that he's a can't-miss prospect like Stephen Strasburg. The problem, of course, is that there are no sure things in the MLB Draft, especially when it comes to 17-year old prospects. Strasburg, at least, is turning 22 this July and is Major League ready right now. Harper, on the other hand, will certainly need a few years in the minors, and anything can happen there.
Nobody in DC wants to hear this, of course, but it's the truth. The great Joe Posnanski spells this out better than anyone could in this blog post. I'd recommend the whole thing, but here's the key quote.
Bryce Harper may be the best prospect in this year's draft - scouts almost unanimously agree, and I don't want to underplay that - but despite the overwhelming attention he's gotten it seems to me that Harper is not so different from any of the other "best prospects" in previous drafts. Matt Wieters may have pages and pages of Internet "Matt Wieters facts" - "Matt Wieters can have his cake and eat it too," "Matt Wieters once threw himself out stealing," etc. - but he also has an 84 OPS+. Alex Gordon is trying to get back to the big leagues. Josh Hamilton went through a lot of hell before making it through. Al Chambers, who was called a Dave Parker clone as the high school star in Harrisburg was was the first pick in the 1979 draft, is back in Harrisburg. I don't know what happened to Earl Cunningham.
Point is: You still have to hope a lot.
To be clear, Posnanski is not saying the Nationals should pass on Harper. And Dan Shanoff, for example, is right: the answer to a lot of these concerns is "So what?" But Posnanski is right - Harper is nowhere close to a sure thing, despite all his accolades.